27 March 2019
Tauranga welcomes over 770 international students
Hundreds of international students and their families were welcomed to the Tauranga region earlier this month with an introduction to Kiwi culture through dance, food and visits to local sites.
Anne Young, Regional Manager of Education Tauranga, said it has run a welcome ceremony for new international students for many years but due to space restrictions of venues, this has previously only included a select group of 200 participants.
“This year we wanted to include all students to show the whole Bay of Plenty community how large our international student cohort is. We secured a large convention space (850 seats) and invited all of our new students to the welcome!”
The new students, who range from five years old to tertiary students in their twenties, and represent 25 countries, were treated to dance and musical performances from Indian, Chinese and Korean cultural groups, as well as a rousing kapa haka performance from Tauranga Intermediate’s Te Whanau o Te Maro.
A number of speakers were also on hand to welcome them, including a representative from Immigration New Zealand and Mayor of Tauranga city, Greg Brownless. Mayor Brownless shared his own personal connection with the international community through his Taiwanese wife and children, and said it was great to see so many students from different countries in the region.
“You help bring the world to our doorstep, you teach our Kiwi students about your life, your country and your culture. This is so important as we grow the values of global citizenship amongst our community,” he said.
Anne said it was a very important event for the region.
“We not only want to ensure our international students feel welcome as they embark on their study journey but also showcase the many people across many organisations within our region who are here to support them and ensure that they have a positive experience here.”
It can be particularly daunting for primary school families to send young students overseas for school, so Education Tauranga runs a special welcome tour for them.
Held over two days, children and their parents were treated to a powhiri, complete with a chance to mingle over morning tea. They then had a taste of Kiwi cultural activities such as visits to local sites, eating fish ‘n chips and lessons in harakeke (flax weaving).
“It was clear that the international families were impressed – they were smiling and snapping photos to share with family back home,” said Anne.